The origin of Tarot cards goes back more than a thousand years to the point that there are many hypotheses. One of them links the word Tarot with geographical location and whimsical names. Author Idries Shah , in The Sufis , states that “tarot” descends from the Arab word “turuq”, which means “four ways”. A document says that a sorcerer named Eliphas Levi assured that Tarot cards were born from the cards which Jewish priests had used to ask the oracles for guidance. Also, a non-documented thesis suggests that Tarot is the result of a mixture of culture like Egyptian, Indian and Chinese.
Meanwhile, wise man Oswald Wirth defends that Tarot have indeed Jewish influences, and that there is a mixture of the Naibi (Arab word for governor) and the numerical cards. The Abraxas Institute of Occult Sciences (AIOS) considers them as predecessors of today’s playing cards, with the difference that Tarot is related to requesting advice and wisdom. Modern Tarot cards date back to 14th Century Europe .
According to AIOS, people can see the 15th century Visconti-Sforza Tarochhi Deck , which is from Arabia . Since Arabic culture influenced Spain , many people could believe that along with Egyptian touches, Tarot cards in Europe were developed by the Gypsies – universally known for their palm reading abilities . Certainly, these tools of knowledge were used to enjoy “tarocchi”, a card game with no distinction from other playing cards by that time, though they hold figurative worth for mystics who influenced the Kabbalah.
Although the Tarots were first used in a game called Triumphs , they were quickly adopted as a tool for divination, and were popularized by occult societies such as the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn . The early Tarot symbolism was deeply rooted in Medieval and Renaissance Europe, but over the centuries it has grown to incorporate everything from Astrology and Kabbalah to Runes (which predate the Tarot by 1000 years) and the I Ching (which predates the Tarot by 2500 years).
Tarot is far and away the most popular tool for spiritual introspection in the West nowadays. Even when it is a guide for any person, it is commonly consulted by people who recognize an influence in their lives of the astrological signs of Zodiac, talismans or numerology. Also it is popular among individuals who believe in the foretelling powers of runes and palm reading.